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ISBN 92-5-105230-1 ISSN 0532-0488

Carbon sequestration in dryland soilsCarbon sequestration in dryland soils

Carbon sequestrationin dryland soils

This publication reflects part of FAO's work on soil carbon

sequestration within the framework of its programme on

the integrated planning and management of land resources

for sustainable rural development. The report presents a

comprehensive analysis of the scientific aspects and

potential for carbon sequestration in drylands some of the

most soil-degraded and impoverished regions of the world.

It is based on case studies carried out across different land-

use and management systems in several distinctive dryland

areas. The report includes an overview of the policies and

clarification of the different economic incentives regarding

soil carbon sequestration in order to determine how

available resources can be used and specific programmes can

be implemented to improve the food security and rural

livelihoods in drylands.






OCarbon sequestration in dryland soils



Copies of FAO publications can be requested from:

SALES AND MARKETING GROUPInformation DivisionFood and Agriculture Organization of the United NationsViale delle Terme di Caracalla00100 Rome, Italy

E-mail: publications-sales@fao.orgFax: (+39) 06 57053360Web site:

Cover photograph:Smallholder farmers weeding in a woodlot. Malawi. FAO/17754/.A. Conti

Carbon sequestration in dryland soils





The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal or development status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

ISBN 92-5-105230-1

All rights reserved. Reproduction and dissemination of material in this information product for educational or other non-commercial purposes are authorized without any prior written permission from the copyright holders provided the source is fullyacknowledged. Reproduction of material in this information product for resale or other commercial purposes is prohibited without written permission of the copyright holders. Applications for such permission should be addressed to: Chief Publishing Management ServiceInformation Division FAO Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy or by e-mail to:

FAO 2004



Preface ix

Summary xi

Acknowledgements xiii

List of acronyms xiv

1. Introduction 1Climate change 1

The terrestrial carbon cycle 2

Soils and carbon sequestration 3

The need of models to simulate changes in soil carbon 4

Soil degradation 6

2. The worlds drylands 7Definition of drylands 7

Land degradation in drylands 7

Distribution of drylands 10

Soil and vegetation of drylands 10

Characteristics of drylands that affect carbon sequestration 13

Desertification and carbon sequestration 15

3. Farming systems in drylands 17Introduction 17

Characteristics of smallholder agriculture 17

Examples of smallholder farming systems 19Agricultural intensification 19Extensive land use 21Soil fertility management 21Adding nutrients to the soil 22Reducing losses of nutrients from the soil 23Recycling nutrients 24Maximizing the efficiency of nutrient uptake 25Soil fertility management practices in the Sahel 25Building on local knowledge 27

Realizing the biophysical potential for carbon sequestration in farming systems 28

4. Biophysical aspects of carbon sequestration in drylands 31Introduction 31

Halophytes 31

Grasslands 31

Burning 32

Afforestation 33

Residues 33


Applied manures 35

Inorganic fertilizers and irrigation 37

Tillage 37

Rotations 39

Fallows 40

Soil inorganic carbon 41

Trace gases 41

Climate change 41

5. Case studies on drylands 43Models for analysing tropical dryland agricultural systems 43

Approach adopted for parametizing RothC and CENTURY 43

Choice of systems and sources of data 44

Case study 1 Nigeria Kano Region 46

Case study 2 India Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka States 53

Case study 3 Kenya Makueni District 62

Case study 4 Argentina Tucuman, Catamarca and Cordoba Provinces 69

Case study 5 Senegal Old Peanut Basin 74

Case study 6 Sudan Northern Kordofan Province 76

6. Carbon sequestration projects 79Benefits from carbon trading 79

Direct local costs and benefits 81

Institutional and policy factors 82

Carbon accounting and verification 84

Risks and uncertainties for investors and farmers 85

Planning, designing and managing carbon sequestration projects 86

Policy and funding framework for carbon sequestration and poverty alleviation in drylands


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